FAR-West 2017: Best of the West Awards

Here is the archived recording of the Best of the West awards ceremony, held during the 2017 Folk Alliance Region-West Music Conference in Bellevue, Washington..  This year’s honorees were ground-breaking songwriter and performer Alice Stuart, music educator Peter Langston and Janet Peterson with the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, and Sisters Folk Festival

To receive Best of the West awards, an individual or organization must demonstrate excellence in one’s craft; an enduring presence in the geographic FAR-West folk community for at least a decade; embody or build upon folk values and traditions; and promote, nurture, foster and expand the audience and opportunities for folk music and musicians in the FAR-West geographic region.

Best of the West Performer Award: Alice Stuart

Ahead of her time, Alice Stuart blazed the trail for women in music as one of the only females in the country to write her own music, front a male band, and play lead guitar on national and international circuits. She blazed the trail in rock, blues and folk with equal skill and success. Blues Hall of Fame inductee, Dick Waterman, once remarked, “There would be no Bonnie Raitt without Alice Stuart.”

Alice spent the mid-60’s and 70’s, one of the most creative musical periods of the century, making music with some of the greatest artists of that time. She toured the US and Europe with her band Snake and as tour support for Van Morrison. The list of artists she played with in that period of time is an awesome one. They include Michael Bloomfield, Jerry Garcia, John Prine, Albert King, Asleep at the Wheel, Richard Greene, Elvin Bishop, Sonny Terry, Tower of Power & Commander Cody. During this period, Alice also appeared on The Dick Cavett Show, with George Carlin as guest host, and won rave reviews from Billboard, Guitar Player, and Rolling Stone magazines for her recordings and performances.

Alice began performing professionally in Seattle during the early 60’s. In 1964, Alice was introduced to California audiences at the Berkeley Folk Festival, then the biggest festival on the West Coast. There she met and subsequently toured and performed with many folk artists like Joan Baez, Doc Watson, Jack Elliott, Phil Ochs, Rosalie Sorrells & Mississippi John Hurt. In the next few years, she also played with blues greats Lightnin’ Hopkins, Jesse Fuller, Albert King and The Chambers Brothers. In 1965, Alice joined forces with Frank Zappa during the formation of the Mothers of Invention. Her LPs on Arhoolie (1964) and Fantasy Records (1970 and 1972) are landmark recordings. One of her songs, “I Ruined Your Life” from her 2002 Burnside release Can’t Find No Heaven was part of the soundtrack for the film “The Station Agent” (Miramax, 2003). Her songs have been recorded by many other artists, including Jackie DeShannon, Irma Thomas, Jimmy Rabbit and the late Kate Wolf as she continues to inspire players and audiences, young and old.

Best of the West Ambassador Award: Peter Langston and Janet Peterson / Puget Sound Guitar Workshop

Founded in 1974 by Larry Squire, Flip Breskin and David Auer, the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop has taken place at a camp/retreat each summer in the tall pines of Washington State. Peter Langston and Janet Peterson now serve as the coordinators of the Workshop.

Peter also directs the California Bluegrass Association’s Summer Music Camp at Grass Valley, CA. He grew up in the urban “folk scare” of the 50s and 60s and has played bluegrass and old-time music on a range of instruments for more than 50 years. Janet is a founding member of the band Motherlode in which she sings and plays cello and guitar, (but never the banjo). She is also Co-Director of the California Bluegrass Association’s Summer Music Camp at Grass Valley as well as being the on-site coordinator for the American Banjo Camp.

Puget Sound Guitar Workshop runs three independent, one-week-long Guitar Workshop sessions each year designed for adults ranging from bare-bones beginners to professional musicians and singers. Over the past 43 years, thousands of students and hundreds of teachers have participated. It is always full, with a large waiting list.

Puget Sound Guitar Workshop has been and continues to be a significant force in creating and nurturing artists and the audiences that listen to them. Each camp week is also an experience of fellowship and bonding that carries on throughout the year in various cities, especially the greater Seattle area.

Many of the top artists in the Northwest have taught there, some got their beginnings there as students. Among them, you will find many FAR-West members as well as talented folks from all around the country. The list includes FAR-West Official Showcase performers and Best of the West honorees. A few names from the long list of teachers include: Laurie Lewis, Nina Gerber, Terre Roche, Missy Raines, Faith Petric, Orville Johnson, Bill Keith, Mary Flower, Cathy Fink, Linda Waterfall, Roland White, Phil and Vivian Williams, Sally Van Meter, Cosy Sheridan.

Sisters Folk Festival Earns the Organizational Achievement Award

For the second year, FAR-West presented an Organizational Achievement Award. This year’s awardee was Sisters Folk Festival from Sisters, OR. Sisters Folk Festival, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, founded in 1995 to bring the finest in acoustic music to Sisters, Oregon. The Sisters Folk Festival is a three-day celebration of roots music from blues to bluegrass, held the weekend following Labor Day in beautiful Sisters, Oregon, where “all the town’s a stage.” The Festival hosts eleven stages, including a 900-seat venue at the Village Green in downtown Sisters, and 1,100 seats at Sisters Art Works, just six blocks away. Over time, it has developed into a year-round cultural-arts organization that supports local schools with extensive community engagement. Beyond producing the highly regarded three-day fall festival, it is responsible for the highly successful innovative music and arts education program, the Americana Project; the community-themed arts fundraiser My Own Two Hands; the intimate Americana Song Academy; and a successful Winter Concert Series. The organization brings over $1.2 million to this small community’s economy and has transformed the Central Oregon cultural landscape in a wide variety of ways.

Listen to part 1 of the ceremony here:

Download part 1 here: Best of the West awards ceremony (part 1)

Listen to part 2 of the ceremony here:

Download part 2 here: Best of the West awards ceremony (part 2)